As we begin 2019, I’ve been thinking a lot about how quickly time goes by. Even today I wonder, “What did I even do yesterday? I can barely even remember.” I venture to guess that many relate to this and wish we could slow time down. While we are not able to actually slow down time, the practice of mindfulness can help us be more fully present to each moment as it passes. Mindfulness, in many ways, has become a buzz word, and many misunderstand what mindfulness is exactly. John Kabat-Zinn (Segal, Williams, & Teasdale, 2013), creator of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, defines mindfulness as, “the awareness that emerges through paying attention, in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment to moment” (p.76).
This nonjudgmental awareness can be practiced throughout the day, even in the most mundane practices. Try the following exercise one day this coming week, and see what it feels like to pause and experience the present moment in all the fullness that it offers:
Pick one routine practice from your daily life, such as brushing your teeth, taking a shower, washing the dishes, etc. As you do this activity, pay attention to the small, minute details: How does it feel? What sensations do you notice in your body? For example, if you choose to be mindful while brushing your teeth, notice how the bristles feel in your mouth, against your gums, against your teeth, against your tongue. What smells do you notice? As thoughts come up (and they will come up), they may try to pull you away from this moment. This is okay because our brains were created to think. Simple notice this, and gently, without judgement, bring your thoughts back to the experience of the activity you’ve chosen. Try this exercise once a day for a week and simply notice how it feels to be fully present to the moment. There is no wrong answer here! Simply notice what comes to your attention as you practice being fully present to the moment.
As we begin a new year, may we each find a few moments to slow down and be present to what is unfolding around us. And may this year bring more mindful moments for each of us.
*Segal, Z. V., Williams, J. M. G., & Teasdale, J. D. (2013). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression (2nd
ed.). New York: Guilford Press.
Rebecca began her internship in September. She enjoys working with aduts, particularly those who are struggling with anxiety. In her free time, she enjoys painting, going to concerts, spending time with friends, or watching Marvel movies.